Mrs. Meir Pledges Israel Will Act on Social Distress

Premier Golda Meir has indicated that her government will give serious consideration to the recommendations of a special panel on poverty which found that large numbers of children of Oriental families live in serious distress and that the government has failed to cope with the problem.

Mrs. Meir said at a press conference that the government will discuss the report with due earnestness and will faithfully carry out whatever policies emerge as a result. She did not commit herself however to adopting the recommendations as they stand and conceded that the government is not likely to make much headway in that area before the national elections next Oct.

The report was prepared by a special committee appointed by Premier Meir two years ago primarily to study juvenile delinquency. The panel broadened its scope to include juvenile distress in general and found among other things that 160,000 children live in conditions of distress and about 94 percent of them come from families of Asian or African origin.

The major findings of the report were submitted to Mrs. Meir eight months ago. Recently she was accused of neglecting the issue and side-stepping the committee’s recommendations. Mrs, Meir responded last week by stressing that the final report was completed only during the past week.

She told reporters today that she considered narrowing the social gap and improving the condition of children to be a major challenge facing Israeli society in the immediate future. She said that until permanent policies are devised, a special unit will be established in the Prime Minister’s Office to coordinate the activities of governmental agency dealing with the welfare problem.

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